TRURO — The dept. of public works held “open houses” on May 10 and 23 at its existing facility at 17 Town Hall Road to give locals and board members a firsthand view of the structure whose inadequacies might cost the town $29.6 million.
After the second open house, DPW Director Jarrod Cabral presented the select board with an update from consulting company Weston & Sampson on the proposed upgrade. Weston & Sampson completed an initial feasibility study in 2019.
According to Cabral, numerous issues with the current structure call for renovation. “We’ve outgrown this facility,” Cabral said at the May 23 open house. “We’d like to house all our vehicles inside.” According to a feasibility update from January, that would bolster employee safety, public safety, and cost efficiency.
Currently, only seven vehicles at a time can be stored indoors at the facility, “but that includes vehicles that are in the maintenance bays for repairs, and not all of them are DPW vehicles,” Cabral said in an email.
“Maintenance bays” are the areas of the facility where work gets done on town vehicles — all of which are repaired by the DPW. According to Cabral, the department currently has 19 vehicles of its own, though that number will soon drop to 17 when the town auctions two of them off. “I don’t think we need any additional vehicles or machines — just to maintain what we have,” Cabral said.
The existing facility has 11,700 square feet of indoor space spread across three structures plus 8,300 square feet of exterior storage, for a total of 20,000 square feet.
The 2019 assessment identified a need for 36,689 square feet in an upgraded facility. That number was lowered to 32,487 square feet, then lowered again in 2020 to the current proposal of 29,608 square feet.
After 7,000 square feet of cuts, town staff are wary of further reductions. Town Manager Darrin Tangeman said that is partly because the Truro Community Center was “value-engineered to the point where it didn’t meet its original intent.”
There are now five possible sites for the renovated DPW facility, including the newly added grouping of 2 Sandpit Road and 9 Noons Drive — a 40-acre area the town is now negotiating to purchase.
The other four sites are already town-owned. The 69.9-acre Walsh property is listed as a possibility, as is the current DPW property on Town Hall Road — although it is listed twice, with different well locations yielding slightly different costs. (If the facility were to expand at its current location, a well would need to be moved to Snow’s Field.)
The final option is at 340 Route 6, near the police and fire stations, which Cabral said would be “the most efficient site for us and for police and fire.”
In addition to more space for vehicle storage, the department envisions an array of other renovations to compensate for the fact that DPW “responsibilities have increased significantly but [the] facility has not,” according to the 2023 Weston & Sampson report.
One example is a wash bay: a designated area for cleaning vehicles. Without a wash pit, “when we wash, the water goes where it goes,” Cabral said. A trench drain sloped to a tight tank would be a hope for the new facility.
Tangeman said that the addition of a wash pit “would extend the life of vehicles.”
The new facility would also include a taller salt barn, one of the existing site’s three structures, which stores salt and sand. The current building is too low for a delivery truck to back in and dump its contents, Cabral said. Instead, salt and sand must be deposited on the asphalt outside and then brought in.
The existing facility is also not ADA-compliant, and the buildings do not have sprinklers and are not well ventilated, Cabral said.
A Combined DPW Garage?
Provincetown is also planning for a major upgrade to its DPW facility, with a vision that’s not so different from Truro’s. The current facility was built in 1950, and the department cites similar inadequacies having to do with space constraints, vehicle storage, and a lack of fire protection, according to a report by Weston & Sampson last year.
The facility “is way behind the times,” Provincetown DPW Director Jim Vincent told the Independent. “Every piece of it needs to be upgraded.”
Provincetown’s estimated cost for upgrading the facility at Race Point Road is $26 million. At the suggestion of the town’s select board, the department has been working on a phased approach, said Vincent.
“The first phase is to basically have a facility where we could store our vehicles so they’re not out in the weather,” he said. Provincetown’s new facility would ultimately be significantly larger than Truro’s, with a total area of 41,630 square feet.
At the Truro Select Board meeting on May 23, chair Kristen Reed mentioned Provincetown’s need for a similar public works renovation. Truro’s new facility “is a big-ticket item,” Reed said, “and so it’s our board’s job to think creatively about how to solve this problem.”
Provincetown Select Board member Leslie Sandberg attended Truro’s meeting and said, “You have a wonderful town manager, and we have a wonderful town manager, and what I would suggest is let’s have them engage in a conversation on this.”
“This is the first I’ve heard of it,” Sandberg added.
Provincetown Town Manager Alex Morse told the Independent that in January the town “put plans to build a completely new consolidated DPW facility on hold as we explore a more incremental approach to meet the department’s needs in the years to come.”
The phased approach includes “prioritizing the aspects of the department that need the most help,” Morse said. “This approach could allow us to brainstorm with our partners in Truro.”
Part of the impetus for combining the towns’ facilities, both of which are projected to cost close to $30 million, is the new water storage tank sought by Provincetown. “The town has to consider all this new infrastructure and how they’re going to squeeze it all in,” Cabral said. “There’s a lot of money out there that we’re talking about.
“A shared building between the two would be sort of a baby step in regionalizing the services,” Cabral said.